Jan 082012

I just came across this beautiful little piece entitled Cape Horn to Starboard, by Lin Pardey, who has been sailing around the world with her husband Larry for decades.

I continue to feel encouraged by reading of other very experienced sailors’ expressions of fear and worry about their adventures. It’s been easy at times to wonder whether I’m “cut out for this”, after experiencing extreme anxiety during rough weather at sea.

At the beginning of my season sailing up in the Channel Islands of California last year, we ran into a pretty decent gale with a dozen and a half 15 year old’s on board. In all honesty, I can’t really say how bad of a storm it was. The important part was that it was the worst weather I’d seen, and my first real experience of having to respond to the cascade of events that often accompanies rough weather. When we finally got home after spending over 12 hours in this gale (a relatively short time, in retrospect), I called up Angus for some serious life advice: was pursuing this career really the right choice for me?

This is a shot of Yellowbanks, the anchorage we chose to wait out our gale, just hours before it hit.

Angus’ efforts to bolster my confidence were varied: he listened sympathetically to my rambling, repetitive play-by-play; he told me he thought I’d be fine; he challenged me to tell him I wasn’t tough enough; finally he told me I needed to shut up and stop being a baby. And yet I whined. The sentence that shook me back to my senses was: “Katz, you’re more passionate about this than anything else in your life. You owe it to yourself to just give it another try.” So I did.

As I read more essays and books by life-long adventurers, I realize that fear and anxiety just go with the territory. It’s pretty normal, and actually, I think that’s a big part of why we do it. So in a way my crazy compulsion to chase after something that strikes fear in my heart is what makes me a member of the tribe. The only thing that determines whether or not I’m “cut out” for this lifestyle is…my own choice to go after it, or not.